Adam Ruins Everything – How America Created the “Model Minority” Myth | truTV


Boy, I’m sure glad we left
the pool party, Trey. Math homework
is way more fun! Computer,
that’s the first thing you’ve ever said
that doesn’t add up. (canned laughter) You’re so studious, Computer. Trey, you could learn
a thing or two from his people. They’re very wise. (canned laughter) Whoa, time out! (whistle blowing) Here we go again! TV and movies are rampant
with Asian stereotypes. Especially the idea
that Asian people are some kind
of “model minority.” Smart, successful, polite,
obedient, and of course, inherently good at math. What’s the big deal?
Those are all compliments. Well, these “compliments”
actually originated in a government
propaganda campaign. And not too long ago,
white Americans actually thought
the exact opposite. Time in! (whistle blowing) In the mid-1800s, Americans were so hostile
to Chinese people, the country passed laws
banning Chinese immigration and denying their freedoms. They were stereotyped
as a lazy, opium-addicted, menacing horde dubbed
the “yellow peril.” (guitar riff) But you’re old Uncle Sammy
didn’t stop there. Uncle Sammy!
Uncle Sammy! (canned applause) (Adam)
Yeah, Uncle Sammy hasn’t been
such a cool uncle. Because of anti-Asian racism
during World War II, the United States interned
Japanese Americans in concentration camps. Hey, it’s our Japanese friend
Kenji from up the street! Oh, that’s not
your friend. That’s a spy who wants
to kill Americans. (canned laughter) Uncle Sammy,
why didn’t you do that to German Americans
in World War II? Yeah, I wonder. Because they’re white. Because they’re white. But all that changed
when the US needed to suck up to its Asian allies
during the Cold War. See, as the Soviet Union
rose to power, the US worried
that Soviet propaganda was making communism
sound “dyno-mite.” (Russian accent)
America is so racist,
am I right? It’s like, hey, USA,
cut it out! Woof.
Guess I better “have mercy”
on these Asians. So America embarked
on a propaganda campaign to tout Asian-American
success stories. The State Department
highlighted Asian-American artists,
politicians, and even sent
an all Chinese-American basketball team
on tour overseas. Forget all that
nastiness earlier. America loves
our Asian sports heroes. And in 1965,
Congress approved a landmark
immigration law that ditched
racist restrictions. But it gave preference
to immigrants who had training,
talent, or skill sets that would benefit
the US economy. (speaker feedback) Sammy and The Rippers
are changing their tune. Border’s now open
for smart, successful Asian immigrants. (guitar riff) Wow! Now that I’ve let
all these educated, successful Asians
into America, I’ve gotta say, Asian Americans sure are
successful and educated. (wild guitar riff) (canned laughter) So America went from a country
that despised Asians to one that held them up as a shining example
of assimilation. And this self-fulfilling
prophecy resulted in the “model minority” myth. And the most sinister part
of this myth is it was used to put
other minorities down. And it’s still holding
people back today. Oh, it’s our very special
guest star, professor of history
at Indiana University Ellen Wu. (canned applause) Why did I need to use
the ladder, Adam? Aren’t we on
the ground floor? It’s a sitcom thing. In the 1960s,
government officials looked at socio-economic data from African-American
communities and contrasted it
to the so-called “family values and stability”
of Asian Americans. Now, this fueled
racist claims that black people had
no one to blame but themselves if they experienced poverty and other social
disadvantages. Conservatives went on
to use these claims to justify making cuts
to many essential social programs
for African Americans and other disadvantaged
minority groups. They were even used to argue
against civil rights. Come on, you don’t see
Computer complaining about “fair and equal
protection.” Asians earned their place
in this country. Why can’t you?
Wh– what? No! Uncle Sammy,
you helped Asian people. Why can’t you see that? And the model minority myth
hurts Asian people too. If an Asian-American student
is struggling in school, many teachers assume that they
don’t really need extra help. And it’s not true
that all Asians are crazy rich
and successful. The poverty rate
for Asian Americans is actually higher than
the national average. And frankly,
it’s kinda ridiculous that we lump people
from so many different backgrounds together
as “Asian.” Yeah, Asian people
are not a monolith. Trey, you and your
multi-ethnic adopted parents keep referring to me as your
“smart Asian neighbor.” Specifically,
I am Korean American and, sure, I’m smart, but I also love
Ultimate Frisbee. Why doesn’t anybody
talk about that? (canned applause) You know what?
This is messed up. Computer’s a person who contains multitudes, and probably
has a real name. You know what, Uncle Sammy? This is all your fault. Get out of my room. Whoa, watch the hair! (canned laughter
and applause)
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Aww, wipe your tears,
you sissy.